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Become a 'Zamily' member with Zac Brown Band

| Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Cole Cassell/Southern Reel
Zac Brown Band

The eight members of Zac Brown Band — known for charismatic, high-energy performances like the concert coming to the First Niagara Pavilion on July 12 — treat each audience like an individual “Zamily,” the band's name for its fans.

Singer Zac Brown and his bandmates study every angle of each location before determining the stage setup, set list and other factors, knowing that each place and audience is different, says guitarist, organist and songwriter Coy Bowles.

He recalls one show in Canada, for instance, where the audience didn't recognize the rendition of the Marshall Tucker Band classic “Can't You See” that the Zac Brown Band performed. The band also pulls many surprises, like the appearance of the Doobie Brothers onstage in June at Fenway Park in Boston. The Doobies joined Brown's band to perform its cover of the Doobie classic “Black Water.”

“The band is cranking along … rocking and rolling,” says Bowles, who, like most band members, lives in the Atlanta area. “We're looking at it from the crowd's perspective. We couldn't care more about the show.”

The Zac Brown Band has earned fame in the past decade, and particularly the past five years, with hits including “Chicken Fried,” “Colder Weather,” “Highway 20 Ride,” “Knee Deep” and “Goodbye in Her Eyes.”

Though band members do a lot of work together, they also work on their own projects as individual musicians. Bowles leads Coy Bowles and the Fellowship, which combines elements of blues, jazz, gospel, country and rock. Bowles and his band are working on their third album, although he put the band on a hiatus for a few years to focus on Brown's band.

The Zac Brown Band members put a major amount of energy into their group, but their side projects keep them “creatively healthy” and develop skills that they can give back to the Brown band.

“We all listen to so many different styles of music,” Bowles says. “Every once in awhile, you get an itch that you want to scratch” that doesn't fit with the Brown band, which will likely put out its next studio album in 2015. On the latest release — the short “The Grohl Sessions Volume 1,” an extended play CD/DVD set released in May — the band worked with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters.

Variety will “keep all your muscles loose and all that when it come to the music world,” Bowles says. “That's the cool thing about this group of guys: I

t's the most creative group of dudes I've ever been around.”

Brown himself doesn't feel threatened by other band members' work, says Bowles, who authored the children's book “Amy Giggles: Laugh Out Loud” and is working on another book. Brown doesn't worry about the other guys outshining him. He encourages them to develop their creativity and talents, Bowles says.

“It's pretty (incredible) how young and energetic we still are as a band,” he says.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7824.

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